May 22, 2008

“Equal Pay For Equal Work” [9:28 am]

Hoo-boy — this is going to be a tough one when the negotiations start up: The Star of Grand Theft Auto IV Finds a Somewhat Small Paycheck

That is because the contracts between the actors’ union and the entertainment industry make little or no provision for electronic media like video games and the Internet. It is a discrepancy that is expected to dominate negotiations between Hollywood and the guild this summer, with many predicting an actors’ strike to parallel the writers’ strike last year, which revolved around similar issues.


“Obviously I’m incredibly thankful to Rockstar for the opportunity to be in this game when I was just a nobody, an unknown quantity,” Mr. Hollick, 35, said last week over dinner in Willamsburg, Brooklyn, shortly after performing in the aerial theater show “Fuerzabruta” in Union Square. “But it’s tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggest thing going right now, when they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don’t see any of it. I don’t blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games. Yes, the technology is important, but it’s the human performances within them that people really connect to, and I hope actors will get more respect for the work they do within those technologies.”

Rockstar declined to comment for this article, but it is an issue that has been hanging over the video game industry for years. On the one hand, through both creative and technical ambition, game makers are infusing their wares with more realistic characters and stories than ever. On the other hand, the $18 billion United States game industry has steadfastly refused to pay royalties to voice and motion-capture body actors along the lines of other entertainment media.

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